Qualitative Research|Features of Qualitative Research|Assumption of Qualitative Research|Common Practices of Qualitative Research|Methods of Qualitative Research|Strengths of Qualitative Research|Building Trustworthiness & Credibility into Qualitative Research
A research that is concerned with subjective phenomena is known as qualitative research. The main aim of qualitative research is to get depth knowledge and explained the issue or subject rather than finding the solution or coming to conclusions. It, generally, explains the issues and makes it easier to understand the issue to the general people. The research uses; survey, interview types of tools while conducting qualitative research. Generally, it is conducted to understand the response of the people. Qualitative research is substantially used in the study of social science research. Qualitative research collects data from the individual, organizations, books, and other written documents, environment, media, and events. Qualitative research is used in market segmentation, development of the concept of advertisement, new product development, etc. Following tools may be used in qualitative research:
- Content analysis
- Comparative analysis
- Conversation analysis
- Grounded theory
- Discourse analysis, etc.
Features of Qualitative Research
Instead of trying to arrive at a singular definition of qualitative research, you might consider five features that are discussed below:
1. Studying the meaning of people’s lives, under real-world conditions:
Qualitative research first involves studying the meaning of people’s lives under real-world conditions. People will be performing in their everyday roles or have expressed themselves through their own diaries, journals, writing, and even photography independent of any research inquiry. Social interactions will occur with minimal involvement by artificial research procedures, and people will be saying what they want to say, not limited to responding to a researcher’s pre-established questionnaire. People will express their opinions independently. Qualitative research analyses their opinions so that the results of research drawn is under the real-world situation.
2. Representing the views and perspectives of the people:
Qualitative research differs because of its ability to represent the views and perspectives of the participants in a study. Capturing their perspectives may be a major purpose of a qualitative study. Thus, the events and ideas emerging from qualitative research can represent the meanings given to real-life events by the people who live them, not the values, preconceptions, or meanings held by researchers.
3. Covering the contextual conditions within which people live:
Qualitative research covers contextual conditions—the social, institutional, and environmental conditions within which people’s lives take place. In many ways, these contextual conditions may strongly influence all human events.
4. Contributing insights into existing or emerging concepts that may help to explain human social behavior:
Qualitative research is not just a diary of everyday life. Such a function would be an ordinary version of real-world events. On the contrary, qualitative research is driven by a desire to explain these events, through existing or emerging concepts. Qualitative research can be the occasion for developing new concepts. The concepts might attempt to explain social processes used to provide potentially useful explanations and to form a platform for new inquiries.
5. Striving to use multiple sources of evidence rather than relying on a single source alone:
Qualitative research strives to collect, integrate, and present data from a variety of sources of evidence as part of any given study. The variety will likely follow to study a real-world setting and its participants. The complexity of the field setting and the diversity of its participants are likely to warrant the use of interviews and observations and even the inspection of documents and accidental effects that cause incorrect results.
Assumptions of Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is undertaken based on certain assumptions. Those assumptions are given below:
The key philosophical assumption of all types o qualitative research is that reality is constructed by individuals interacting with their social worlds. It is assumed that meaning is set based on people’s experiences and this meaning is mediated through the investigator’s own perceptions. The key concern is understanding the phenomenon of interest from the participants’ perspectives, not the researchers.
The researcher physically goes to the people, setting, or institution (the field) to observe or record behavior in the natural setting. Data collection methods include interviews, observations, and documents.
Qualitative research is descriptive in nature. The researcher is interested in the process, meaning, and understanding gained through words or pictures. Typically, the findings are in the form of themes, categories, typologies, concepts, tentative hypotheses, or even theory. The product of qualitative research is richly descriptive, Words and pictures are used to convey the results of the research rather than numerical figures.
The process of qualitative research is inductive. The researcher builds abstracts, concepts, hypotheses, and theories from details rather than testing existing theories. Often qualitative studies are undertaken if there is a lack of theory or existing theory fails to adequately explain the situation. There are, thus, no hypotheses to be deduced from theory to guide the investigation. Qualitative researchers build theory from observations and understandings gained from the field.
5. Multiple realities:
Social activities are not the outcomes of a single event but they are the outcomes of interactions of various events and situations. So, qualitative research assumes that all those social events are the outcomes of multiple realities.
6. Multiple perspectives:
It includes the voices of various informants whose situations are different. So, it covers the multiple perspectives of mulåple people. Thus, the findings of qualitative research remain more realistic.
It assumes that accuracy of information involves verifying the information with informants or triangulating among different sources of information.
Common Practices in Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is different than quantitative research. Some of the common practices used while conducting qualitative research are given below:
1. Flexible design:
Qualitative research uses flexible research rather than fixed research designs. Qualitative research tries to strengthen a study’s validity, selecting the samples to be studied, and being concerned with generalizing. The qualitative researcher should work more in the field and the situation of the field might be different than what we expect previously, so researcher can change/ moderate the research design when it is essential.
2. Field-based data:
Field-based data captures the contextual conditions as well as participants’ perspectives. The result is drawn from fieldwork and considering the diaries, journals, writings, photographs, or other past works performed by the participants.
3. Use of non-numeric data:
Qualitative research analyses the subjective information obtained from interviews focus group discussions, observations, etc. Analysis of such data can be made using various computer software and other statistical and logical techniques..
4. Different interpretations:
Qualitative data may be in written and visual forms. Qualitative research relates to the combination of orientations as well as methodological choices. Taking advantage of the richness of the combination qualitative research can customize its opportunities. Three conditions may contribute to the combination, the potential multiplicity of interpretations of the human beings; the potential uniqueness of these event,s and the methodological variations available within qualitative research. Each condition can involve extreme choices, often involving philosophical and not just methodological considerations.
Methods of Qualitative Research
A qualitative approach is a general way of thinking about conducting qualitative research. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher(s), the stags of research, and the method of data analysis. Several generally are considered while undertaking qualitaåve research.
1. Case studies:
In a case study, the researcher explores a single entity or phenomenon (‘the case’) bounded by time and activity (e.g., a program, event, institution, or social group) and collects detailed information through a variety of data sources. The case study is a descriptive record of an individual’s experiences and/or behaviors kept by an outside observer. Case studies are conducted to find out the solution to the problems of an organization but its findings can not be generalized.
2. Ethnographic studies:
The ethnographic approach to qualitative research comes largely from the field of anthropology. Originally, the idea of a culture was tied to the notion of ethnicity and geographic location, but it has been broadened to include virtually any group or organization. In ethnographic research, the researcher studies an intact cultural group in a natural setting over a specific period of time. A cultural group can be any group of individuals who share a common social experience, location, or other social characteristics of interest. Ethnography is an extremely broad area with a great variety of practitioners and methods. However, the most common ethnographic approach is a participant observation as a part of field research. Typically the ethnographer involves in the culture as an active participant and records extensive field notes.
3. Phenomenological studies:
Phenomenology is considered a philosophical perspective as well as an approach to qualitative methodology. It has a long history in several social research disciplines including psychology, sociology, and social work. Phenomenology is a school of thought that emphasizes a focus on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the world. That is, the phenomenologist wants to understand how the world appears to others. In a phenomenological study, human experiences are examined through the detailed description of the people being studied. The goal is to understand the ‘live experience’ of the individuals. This approach studies over a small group of people intensively for a long period of time.
4. Grounded theory:
Grounded theory is a qualitative research approach that was originally developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960s. The self-defined purpose of grounded theory is to develop a theory about phenomena of interest. This is not just abstract theorizing, instead, the theory needs to be grounded or rooted in observation — hence the term grounded is used Grounded theory is a complex iterative process. The research begins with the raising of generative questions that help to guide the research but are not intended to be either static or confining. As the researcher begins to gather data and core theoretical concepts are identified. Tentative linkages are developed between the theoretical core concepts and the data. This early phase of the research tends to be very open and can take months. Later on the researcher is more engaged in verification and summary. The effort tends to evolve toward one core category that is central.
5. Field research:
Field research can also be considered either a broad approach to qualitative research or a method of gathering qualitative data. The essential idea is that the researcher goes into the field to observe the phenomenon in its natural state. As such, it is probably most related to the method of participant observation. The researcher typically takes extensive field notes that will be subsequently coded and analyzed in a variety of ways so as to reach a conclusion.
Building Trustworthiness and Credibility into Qualitative Research
Three qualities are required for building the trustworthiness and credibility of qualitative research. They are given below:
The first quality for building trustworthiness and credibility is that qualitative research should be done in a publicly accessible manner, The research procedures should be transparent. This first quality means that you must describe your qualitative research procedures so that other people can review and understand them. All data should be available for inspection. The general idea is that others should be able to scrutinize your work and the evidence used to support your findings and conclusions. The scrutiny can result in criticism, support, or refinement. Moreover, any person, whether a peer, a colleague, or a participant in your qualitative research studies, should be able to undertake such examinations.
Being methodic means following some orderly set research procedures and minimizing careless work—whether a study is based on an explicitly defined research design or on a more informal with more rigorous field routine. Being methodic also includes avoiding unexplained bias or deliberate change in the natural settings in carrying out research. Finally, being methodic also means bringing a sense of completeness to a research effort, as well as cross-checking a study’s procedures and data.
3. Adherence to Evidence:
A final quality is that qualitative research should be based on an explicit set of evidence. For many studies where the goal is to have participants describe their own decision-making processes, the evidence will consist of participants’ actual language as well as the context in which the language is expressed. In these situations, the language is valued as the representation of reality. Such a function differs from situation to situation in which studies are dominantly concerned with people’s behavior. Under this latter circumstance, participants’ words are viewed as “self-reports” about their behavior.
Regardless of the kind of data being collected, a study’s conclusions should be drawn in reference to those data. If there are multiple perspectives,•analysis should make sense from each perspective and so test the evidence for consistency across different sources with deliberate efforts made to seek out contrary cases to strengthen the findings even more.
Strengths of Qualitative Research
Generally, qualitative research is considered a subjective analysis and just helps to explain the terms. But it has a number of strengths. they are given below:.
1. Issues can be examined in detail and in-depth:
Any issues that is not clear yet, such issues will be taken by the researcher for his/her study so that the issues will be defined clearly and factors that are responsible for such issues will be developed.
2. Open interview:
Interviews are not restricted to specific questions and can be guided/ redirected by the researcher in real-time. In qualitative research, respondents can express their views freely so that respondents’ open ideas can be collected.
3. Flexible framework:
The research framework and direction can be quickly revised as new information comes. As the situation or environment changes, the framework of research. can be changed and a new framework, as per the changing environment, can be implemented.
4. Capture human behavior:
The data based on human experience is more powerful and sometimes more compelling than quantitative data. Human behavior can more effectively capture by qualitative research than by quantitative research.
5. Finding the complexities:
Complexities about the research subjects or topics are discovered by the qualitative researcher but are often missed by more quantitative studies. The quantitative researcher only considers the seen facts but the qualitative researcher analyses to the cause behind the scene. Thus, qualitative research can find the complexities of human behavior.
Data usually are collected from a few cases. or individuals. So, the findings of qualitative research cannot be generalized to a larger population. However, findings can be transferred to another setting for further investigation.